According to the all-music guide, shoegazing is:

"A genre of late '80s and early '90s British indie-rock, named after the bands' motionless performing style, where they stood on stage and stared at the floor while they played.  The sound of the music was overwhelmingly loud, with long, droning riffs, waves of distortion and cascades of feedback. Vocals and melodies disappeared into the walls of guitars, creating a wash of sound where no instrument was distinguishable from the other."

I wouldn't say that the vocals & melodies disappear since they are usually very pretty and fundamental to the song, but its true that the magic of the songs is in the complex harmonics blended into the noise.  For more detailed musicology, people named Thad and Sande wrote some in-depth analysis (now vanished from the web), including the observation "Despite the backlash against shoegazers in the music press, the genre is alive and well in the underground, and on small record labels."   In parts of the US, the genre was evolved into/renamed as dreampop.


My Bloody Valentine is usually said to have invented and defined the genre. There are 3 full-length albums and a few EPs.  Start with Loveless, their final and most consistent work.  I personally love their early album Ecstacy and Wine, but good luck finding it - i've seen it selling for $50.
Lush was a British pop group headed by Miki, flamboyant half-Japanese lead singer, and Emma, who wrote and performed the stunningly beautiful guitar parts. I saw them live 4 times and tended to scream a lot. Their last album Lovelife was largely second-rate pop music, so start with their earlier 2nd album Spooky.
Slowdive/Mojave3 started out as a dreamy, swirly shoegazer band, matured on their second album, then did an ambient album Pygmalion and then reincarnated as a 'country-ish' band as Mojave3.  All of their albums are worth having, though you could start with their first, Just for a day.
Swirlies are a avante-gard noise/jangle band much like Isn't Anything-era MBV, but from the US east coast and having a more American sound, occasionally Smashing Pumpkins-like.  I recommend the albums Blonder Tongue Audio Baton and They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World of the Salons.
Blind Mr. Jones (10k) Blind Mr. Jones - British shoegazer band, heavy harmonies and flute(!), boy vocals.  Sadly overlooked.  I am still searching for their other album Tatooine.  Their AMG page has a lot more info.
Ride Ride was an important shoegazer band for their first 3 albums (Smile, Nowhere, Going Blank Again).   Occasionally brilliant, as in the incredible song "Like a Daydream" on their first US release Smile, they went downhill rapidly and lost their fans long before breaking up.
diff_engine_150.jpg (7239 bytes) Difference Engine was an "indie" band with one known album, Breadmaker, haunting and deeply emotional within the context of shoegaze-dense guitar noise.    AMG link.  There was a later CD on Bedazzled but it sounds more mellow and jangly.
Everything's Alright Forever (12k) The Boo Radleys had around 3 excellent shoegaze songs on their early album Everything's Alright Forever, but the rest of their work is Brit-plop.   I'm still trying to acquire their earliest release Ichabod & I.
Secret Shine (6k) Secret Shine was an obscure "indie" band, yet i think they are a delightful gem of shoegaze / dreampop. They were from Bristol and affiliated with the Sarah record label.  TweeNet has a discography.  An earlier incarnation had the name Dreamscape.   Some people have referred to them dismissively as a "MBV clone", which sounds like a compliment to me.
shiFt_150.jpg (5534 bytes) shiFt - a Texas dreampop band, much recommended - EP 'a folding sieve'.  The track 'breathe salt' has an incredible harmonic noise texture.  A must-have for MBV fans.  Changed their name right after that album to Should.

People have emailed me about some other bands that belong here, but i haven't had a chance to investigate them yet - e.g. Garden of Dreams.